© Kimmo Tattari


The Metal Queen in a Steel Mill interview

Interview By Kimmo Tattari & Jari Asell / June 2011
With an array of classic albums first with Warlock and later with her solo project as well as the energetic live performances, the title of undisputed Queen of Heavy Metal belongs to Doro Pesch. Capable of rocking the audience with all-out metal anthems and soothing them with some of the most beautiful ballads in metal, there really aren’t anyone quite like her. In the heat of Sauna Open Air festival, Steel Mill’s Jari and Kimmo had a chance to meet up with Doro and conduct an interview.

We would like to start

this interview with a small nostalgic trip back to 1986, because that was the first Priest gig for the both of us. Warlock opened the show, and Helsinki was the last concert on the European leg. How do you remember that?

That’s cool, was it really the last show? It was really a dream come true for me, because I was a big Priest fan like you…

When I started in my first band, it was 1980, Priest was the state of the art, they were our idols. The day when we heard we will tour together, that was actually the day I quit my job. I had a job as a graphic artist, and when I heard we’re gonna go on tour with Priest, I went to my boss and said ”You know, I’m quitting my job ’cause I’m going on tour with Judas Priest”, and he said ”What is that?”. Of course he had no clue about metal, and I told him that it’s the best, the biggest metal band, and I have to do this. ”Are you crazy?”, ”Yes but I gotta do it”. Then he said ”Ok, I wish you all the good luck, but you have to promise me to do good, and never come back here again”.

Actually, it was the best tour we have ever done, because it was the first time on a big tour with all the big stadiums. It was the greatest timing for metal, in the middle of the 80s. Metal was so big…

That was the ”True As Steel” tour?

Yes, True As Steel, and Priest did the ”Turbo” tour, and it was… like metal was so huge, everything was sold out. They treated us so good, we were treated like gold. I thought if I ever, ever have a support band myself, I wanna treat them the same way. And I really learned a lot from the Priest, and I must say I’m forever grateful that we had this great opportunity.

I remember when you sang the chorus: ”Stay Hard, Judas Priest”, instead of ”True As Steel”…

Did I do this? …Wow! Yeah, probably it was towards the end of the tour, you know, you feel a little bit more comfortable, and then you do stuff like that… and was it there that I sent them some cakes on stage?

Yes, it was, and after the last song, Hell Bent For Leather, there were some sex dolls, and Priest had a robot on the stage…

Yeah, yeah, I remember…

The dolls went up, hanging in the robot’s hands, and then someone brought a couple of bicycles on the stage. The Priest guys, Glenn, for instance, tried to get on the bike, but his leather pants were so tight that he couldn’t make it…

Yeah, that’s the problem for Metal Gods, yes… But it was awesome, it was the best tour, and I learned a lot. It was unforgettable. I remember that night, I wanted to say thank you to Judas Priest, but we didn’t speak English that well back then, so I was meditating over ”What should I say, what should I say”… and then I said one sentence, and it was like ”Thanks for the spirit!”… and that was actually 24 hours I was awake writing that one sentence. But it opened up the conversation, really. They were really super nice to us, everybody!

© Kimmo Tattari

That must have been a big step for you as a performer? To go on tour with Judas Priest, because Warlock was just breaking through…

Yeah, Judas Priest, my favourite band of all times! It was 1986, and in 1987 with Dio …ah, it was unbelievable, really, the 80s for me, every year there was something spectacular. First we did the Monsters Of Rock Festivals with Ozzy headlining, and Scorpions were there. Then we opened on the Judas Priest tour, and one year later on the Dio tour, and I must say those are the greatest memories of those couple of years. It was my first time in all these great countries. I had been in Belgium, Netherlands and England before, but never in places like Scandinavia or Spain – and you know all those metalheads in the south, it was brilliant!

And later I wanted to say thank you to Priest in a proper way. That’s the reason we made a cover of ”Breaking The Law” on the ”Classic Diamonds” album!

That’s a really cool cover. You definitely brought something extra to the song, instead of just repeating the original version. I remember having cold chills going on my spine, when l heard it the first time.

That’s cool! It’s so tough to try to top something that’s already so fantastic, so we thought to sort it somehow different, and I think the Priest guys liked that version, too!

Whose idea was it to include Udo on the vocals?

Actually, we were doing a video for Udo, and then he wanted to know what I was doing. I told we were making something quite different, an orchestral record, and he was interested. I asked if he would like to come by to Cologne… and later I asked if he would like to sing on this song. Then I played him the version of ”Breaking The Law”, and he said, ”Wow, let’s do it”!

© Kimmo Tattari

And a bit later, in 2008, you shared the stage with Priest, singing ”Breaking The Law” in Düsseldorf?

Oh yeah! Actually Rob said, ”Hey, wanna sing ”Breaking The Law” with me?” And I told him ”I have sung this song a hundred thousand times before, but really can’t remember the lyrics, so please no”… Then I was standing there by the monitor desk watching the show, and he came by, handed me the microphone and said ”Ok, you’re on!”… Düsseldorf, my hometown… but it went fine, and the fans liked it. I’m still a big fan, you never lose that. I still feel like a 14-year-old, that’s Priest, you know… That’s awesome!

It’s great to hear we’re all humans…

Yeah, I’m still a metalhead, you know.

What’s you’re favourite Priest song?

My favourite song… I would say it’s ”Breaking the Law” for me. I love it so much, that’s my favourite song, yeah… but amongst many, many others…

Is it going to be in the setlist today?

I don’t know yet how many songs we can do today, ’cause it’s only 60 minutes. We have to think about the encore list… sometimes the sing-along part in the set takes longer than expected, when people are so into it. Sometimes, you know, we have to drop a song or two… Let’s see how it goes tonight!

We just did an autograph session, and so many songs were requested. I said, ”Yeah, yeah, we’re gonna play it”, and then realised we’ve only got 60 minutes. That’s a short set. Usually when we go on tour we play two and half hours, then you get all the songs…

It’s now two years since your last studio album ”Fear No Evil”. When should we expect to hear some new Doro material?

We’re now in the process of making. We’ve already made a couple of songs, so songwriting is going very good. I think it will come next year… got some great ideas…

There’s one song for Ronnie James Dio, it’s called ”Hero”. We just demoed it, and it’s really nice. I think it’s going to be something important on the album…

Doro with Saxon’s Biff Byford © Kimmo Tattari

And later this summer you’re going to tour with Dio’s Disciples?

Yes, in Spain and Italy. I’m filling in for Ripper Owens. The 29th of June is the first show, and I’m now practising all the lyrics. There’s so many lyrics, and I want to do good for the fans, and for Ronnie… I’m so excited about it, it’s such a big honour. We all love Ronnie, and we toured so many times together… Actually the last time we played together was when he was doing ”Heaven And Hell”, maybe one and a half years ago… Well, I’m still so shocked…

Yes, I think everybody is.

I think nobody will ever get over it. In 2000 we did a great tour together with Ronnie. It was so great ’cause metal had just come back. In America metal was not doing good at all for ten years, in the 90s, between 1990 and 2000. We did this tour together with Ronnie, and it was so nice. We became very good friends. On the ’87 tour, we didn’t speak English that well, so we didn’t have long conversations…

So the next album will be out maybe next year, in 2012?

Hopefully in the beginning of next year. We’re on tour so much, so it’s hard to find time. Now we do all the festivals, and in October we do a long tour in Europe. In December another German tour, and then I’ll start, like, polishing the record. There’s never enough time in a day…

Yes, and unfortunately it seems that we are also running out of time, so thanks a lot for this interview, and for sharing your memories with the Steel Mill!

© Kimmo Tattari
Where from: Germany
Active: early 1980’s ->
Style: heavy metal
Discography (with Warlock & solo): Burning The Witches (1984), Hellbound (1985), True As Steel (1986), Triumph And Agony (1987), Force Majeure (1989), Doro (1990), True At Heart (1991), Rare Diamonds (1991), Angels Never Die (1993), Machine II Machine (1995), Love Me In Black (1998), Calling The Wild (2000), Fight (2002), Classic Diamonds (2004), Warrior Soul (2006), Fear No Evil (2009), 25 Years In Rock (2010)
Trivia: Before joining Warlock in 1982, Doro sang with Snakebite and Beast. Both groups also made demos.
Essential releases (top5):
Triumph And Agony (1987)

Warlocks fourth, and final album. Songs like “All We Are,” “I Rule The Ruins,” “Metal Tango” and ”Fur Immer” have stayed in Doro’s setlist for years. It also features Cozy Powell as a guest drummer for few tracks.

Calling The Wild (2000)

The latter day gem in Doro’s catalogue. “Calling The Wild” features “Kiss Me Like A Cobra,” “Burn It Up” and “Dedication” – all which stand proud against any old Warlock classic. Plus there are excellent cover versions of “White Wedding” and “Love Me Forever.”

Classic Diamonds (2004)

“Classic Diamonds” was collaboration with The Classic Night Orchestra, which reworked some of her earlier songs with symphonic and acoustic arrangements. Right from the scorching opener “I Rule The Ruins” the combination is true marriage made in metal heaven. Hits follow each other, highlights too numerous to mention but special credit must go to utterly brilliant reworking of Judas Priest’s “Breaking The Law.”

True As Steel (1986)

Third album by Warlock, and somewhat shadowed by band’s debut and “Triumph And Agony” released year later. Regardless, it remains a metal standout. This album has their first success outside of Europe and includes several underrated tracks and of course the immortal title song.

Doro (1990)

This one was originally Doro’s second official solo album after the split with Warlock. It was recorded with US players and produced by Kiss’ Gene Simmons and Tommy Thayer. Simmons also wrote four songs for the album, one “Something Wicked This Way Comes” was a rejected Kiss master from 1980’s. The album didn’t break Doro in the States but that didn’t lessen its appeal with the fans. The more commercial approach resulted in much smoother and polished effort but songs like “Unholy Love” have stood the test of time.

Essential Guest appereance:
Love Me Forever (2000)

Not exactly a guest appearance since the version of Motörhead’s first classic ballad appears on Doro’s own “Calling The Wild.” However sang as a duet with Lemmy himself, this song has eerie quality that shouldn’t go unnoticed by any Motörhead or Doro fan. The gritty voice of Lemmy and Doro’s slightly more melodic delivery fit in together perfectly.